Page last updated at 15:18 GMT, Friday, 17 April 2009 16:18 UK

US nuclear monitors leave N Korea

Image grab of North Korean TV showing apparent rocket launch
Pyongyang said criticism of its launch was an "unbearable insult"

Four American nuclear monitors have left North Korea, as tensions remain high over its nuclear ambitions.

Their departure - following UN nuclear inspectors who were also expelled - leaves no on-site means to monitor North Korea's nuclear facilities.

Earlier this week, North Korea said it would resume work on its nuclear programme after the UN condemned its launch of a long-range rocket.

North Korea says the rocket was carrying a communications satellite.

Critics say the launch was a missile test.

Washington has joined China, Russia, Japan and other countries in urging Pyongyang to resume negotiations.

Feb 2007 - North Korea agrees to close its main nuclear reactor in exchange for fuel aid
June 2007 - North Korea shuts its main Yongbyon reactor
June 2008 - North Korea makes its long-awaited declaration of nuclear assets
Oct 2008 - The US removes North Korea from its list of countries which sponsor terrorism
Dec 2008 - Pyongyang slows work to dismantle its nuclear programme after a US decision to suspend energy aid
Jan 2009 - The North says it is scrapping all military and political deals with the South, accusing it of "hostile intent"
5 April 2009 - Pyongyang launches a rocket carrying what it says is a communications satellite
14 April 2009 - After criticism of the launch from the UN Security Council, North Korea vows to walk out of six-party talks

Pyongyang carried out a nuclear test in October 2006.

The White House has called on North Korea "to cease its provocative threats and to respect the will of the international community and to honour its international commitments and obligations".

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has described North Korea's reaction as "an unnecessary response to the legitimate statement put out of concern by the Security Council".

China and Russia have already urged North Korea to reconsider its decision, with Beijing - Pyongyang's closest ally - calling for "calm and restraint".

Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency went to North Korea following a landmark deal in February, under which it agreed to end its nuclear ambitions in return for aid and political incentives.

Some progress was made - last year North Korea partially disabled its Yongbyon reactor and handed over what it said was a complete declaration of its nuclear activities.

In return, the US removed North Korea from the list of countries it says sponsors terrorism.

But talks have stalled in recent months, as Washington and Pyongyang accused each other of failing to meet obligations.

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